Canada finalizes new 75% picture health warning regulations

Canadian Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq today announced the finalization of regulations to require the new set of health warnings on packages of cigarettes and little cigars.  The warnings will increase in size from 50% to 75%.  The new warnings will be required at the manufacturer/importer level as of March 21, 2012, and at the retailer level as of June 19, 2012.

 The new requirements include

  • A set of 16 new package picture-based health warnings, with an increase in warning size from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of the package front and back (positioned at the top of the front and back).
  • The use of testimonials, notably warnings featuring images of the late Barb Tarbox before she died of lung cancer, as well as Leroy Kehler who speaks through a hole in his throat following cancer of the larynx (voice box).
  • The addition of a toll-free quit line number and a web address to the warning messages.
  • For the first time, warnings about certain health effects, e.g. bladder cancer and vision loss, are included.
  • A set of eight new full-colour picture-based messages appearing inside the package.  Canada is the only country in the world to require messages inside the package in addition to the exterior.
  • An improved set of four text-only toxic emission messages that will appear in rotation on the side of the package, to replace the existing message.  Machine-based yield numbers for tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, benzene will be removed from the side panel, and replaced with descriptive statements without yield numbers.  Djibouti and Thailand are the only countries known to have finalized requirements for rotated messages on the side panel, in addition to health warnings on the package front and back; Australia has announced its intention to do so.

Uruguay currently has the largest cigarette package health warnings in the world, at 80% of the package front and back.  Australia has announced (but not yet finalized) proposed warnings that would cover 75% of the front, and 90% of the back of the package (for an average of 82.5%), with an implementation date of July 1, 2012.

 To see the new messages to be required in Canada (16 exterior health warnings; 8 interior messages; 4 toxic emission statements for the side panel), visit:


 Below is the news release from the Canadian Department of Health (Health Canada) in English

 A Health Canada backgrounder can be found here:



 The full text of the regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, likely in the issue to be published on October 12, 2011.  The website for the Canada Gazette, Part II (published every two weeks) is as follows:

 The Canadian Government has said that it will revise warnings for tobacco products other than cigarettes and little cigars during a second phase of regulatory development.


 Health Canada

September 27, 2011 09:09 ET

Harper Government Takes Action With Tough New Warning Messages for Tobacco Products

OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 27, 2011) –

Backgrounder: New Tobacco Labelling Regulations (

The Harper Government gave final approval for tough new warning labels on cigarettes and little cigar packages, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, announced today. Tobacco manufacturers and importers have been given until March 21, 2012 to transition to the new labels, while retailers will have until June 19, 2012 to ensure all packages on their shelves feature these new labels.

“Our Government has followed through on its commitment to introduce new, stronger labelling requirements on key tobacco products,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “The new Tobacco Act regulations will put new, updated health warnings and information into the hands of millions of smokers.”

The new health warnings are part of new Tobacco Act regulations, now in force, that set out new labelling requirements for cigarettes and little cigars.

“The messages introduced today reflect recent research on the health hazards associated with tobacco use and the benefits of quitting,” said Minister Blaney. “This is an important initiative for the health of Canadians.”

The new health warnings feature, for the first time, compelling stories from people affected by tobacco use, such as the late anti-smoking activist Barb Tarbox. Two of the messages feature images of Ms. Tarbox, taken while she was dying of lung cancer. Pat Tarbox, her husband at the time, and Mackenzie Tarbox, their daughter, joined Minister Aglukkaq for the announcement.

“I applaud the courage and commitment of those who are sharing their experience with tobacco use through these messages,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “I’m especially proud to welcome the family of Ms. Tarbox. Her unforgettable image has become a symbol of the hazards of smoking.”

“The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada commends Minister Aglukkaq on this important initiative aimed at reducing death and disability caused by tobacco industry products, including heart disease and stroke, and other chronic diseases,” says Bobbe Wood, President, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. “We’ve learned that when it comes to tobacco control, we must be comprehensive a key component of this approach includes strong, graphic and prominent warnings on tobacco packaging.”

The regulations will be published soon in Canada Gazette, Part II. Also now in force are new regulations prohibiting the terms “light” and “mild”, and variations thereof, on cigarettes, little cigars and various other tobacco products and accessories.

Visit our image gallery (, now featuring new facts and information on the new health labels.

Également disponible en français

Health Canada news releases are available on the Internet at


Media Enquiries:
Health Canada
(613) 957-2983

Cailin Rodgers
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Public Enquiries:
(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709

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